Choosing a RAV Vast Scale: Part I

So you've decided to buy a RAV Vast, and the scale choice seems like a challenge. Don't worry, we're here to help you with that.
You know you're going to love your RAV. You know it's going to change your life forever. But first – how do you pick a scale? There are so many to love, and they all sound beautiful! Well, consider this your guide to the land of RAV. Our tour will take us around the world, so buckle up, the Scale Safari is starting!
First, a couple notes:

RAV scales are available in Vast and Vast2 models. A Vast is slightly more percussive, closer to the tone of a handpan; a Vast 2 is generally slightly louder with longer sustain. Neither is better or more "advanced", just a little different;

The lowest note of each scale is called a Ding. A little bigger, a little richer than all of the other notes, it's located in the center of your drum and designated in parentheses in the specifications below. For example, in the B Pygmy scale, B2 is the Ding: (B2) E3 F#3 G3 B3 D4 E4 F#4 A4;

If you are not a musician, don't worry about the specifications. Just follow your intuition! Scales that pair well with guitar are designated by a letter (G);

For the musically savvy, note the enharmonic chord spellings. For example, F# major and Gb major are the same chord, which name you use depends on whether you are playing in a sharp or flat key;

Some scales that are described here are officially discontinued. However, we still make them in small batches, and if you really want one, you can write us in the chat.

So, without further ado, let's start exploring the RAV Vast scale range!
Africa: Pygmy Scale
Got your binoculars and expedition hat? The first thing you notice when you get off the plane is the sound of distant drumming. As you get closer, you make out the complex rhythms of a djembe, a shaker, and a RAV… improvising on a Pygmy Scale! Named for the forest dwelling hunter gatherers of sub-Saharan Africa, this warm, earthy, and mysterious minor scale is easy to play and a great choice for beginners, while advanced players will delight in its remarkable tonal depth. As the band stops playing, the tribe welcomes you to join them for a traditional meal of peanut stew, fufu, and grilled antelope.

RAV Vast E Low Pygmy (G)

(E2) A2 B2 C3 E3 G3 A3 B3 D4

Chords: E minor, A minor, C major, G major

Tip: The best-selling E Low version of this scale boasts the deepest sound of any RAV and is well suited to slow, meditative playing due to the long sustain. The price is higher due to the difficulty of production

RAV Vast G Pygmy

(G2) C3 D3 D#3 G3 A#3 C4 D4 F4

Chords: G minor, D#/Eb major, A#/Bb major

Arabia: Kurd, Onoleo, Arabian Night
Who's ready for one thousand and one Arabian nights? Forget Sinbad the sailor and Aladdin's magic lamp – after playing the Kurd or the Arabian Night, you'll have your own adventures to tell!

Your story starts with a trip to the bazaar, the Middle East's famous open air marketplace and meeting place of merchants and craftsmen. There are certainly some curious characters here! In one stall, a goat farmer sells cheese and milk. Across the street, a richly dressed tea and spice merchant loudly proclaims his wares while a barber in a turban discusses the news of the day with his customers. But wait – what's that sound?

A tall, handsome man wearing a full beard and a long robe is singing rajaz poetry, his deep voice sending his audience in the street into an ecstasy while a tabla drum and violin throb underneath. In the middle of the song, the tabla player gestures, and pulls out a mysterious steel drum engraved with ornate slits. A huge crowd gathers to see and hear the RAV Kurd. This balanced and remarkably versatile scale – named for the Kurdish people – is based on an Arabic maqam, or melodic mode, but is equally at home in Western and world music. An abundance of notes and chords makes it a great choice for improvising, either solo or with an ensemble.

RAV Vast B Kurd (G)

(B2) F#3 G3 A3 B3 C#4 D4 E4 F#4 A4

Chords: B minor, F# minor, G major, A major, D major, E minor

RAV Vast B Arabian Night
(B2) F#3 G3 A#3 B3 C#4 D4 F4 F#4

Chords: B minor, F# minor, G major, A major, D major.
RAV Vast B Arabian Night. Played by Adrian J Portia
RAV Vast B Onoleo (discontinued, order via live chat)

(B2) F#3 G3 B3 D#4 E4 F#4 G4 B4

Chords: B major, E minor

Tip: this challenging, esoteric scale is unlike any other. Incredibly exciting, its strong dissonances lend itself to solo work in the hands of an advanced player…

Consumed with excitement, the sounds of singing steel ringing through your ears, you join a passing caravan and ride into the desert. Later that night, nursing a strong cup of Turkish coffee in a café, you watch the travelers congregate around a belly dancer. The rest of the crowd is watching the dancer, but you have eyes only for the beautiful, voluptuously curved…steel drum in the corner of the stage. Accompanying the dance by itself with strange, stinging energy, the RAV Vast seems to lift everything around it. After the music ends, you approach the belly dancer, insisting to know what scale that was. She winks and whispers in your ear…

America: Integral Scale
You wake up to feel something brushing your face. You get up slowly. Feeling something wooden and feathery in your hand, you light your oil lamp. There, hanging from the low ceiling, is a Native American dream catcher. The willow hoop, big is your hand, is adorned with a magnificent flush of color – violet, pink, azure – and enclosed with beads painted with flecks of white. These traditional ornaments were hung above the cribs of infants to protect them, and now it is looking over you.

Footsteps.

You recognize the heavy gait of the captain. He appears, ancient eyes looking you over from behind his beard. "You." He finally says. "The crew. They don't want to continue anymore. I'm afraid it's going to be a mutiny." Then, something bright flashes in his eyes. "That. The steel drum." His voice quickens. "Play for them. The men need to hear music." You look to where his finger points. Your trusty RAV. Despite the damp conditions, the sturdy instrument, nitrided to protect against rust, is still gleaming. You nod. You touch the tongues, warming up. Your eyes widen. Your pentatonic scale…has somehow transformed into an Integral. You climb upstairs, and the captain pulls out his guitar to join you as you start playing…

A Integral – Vast (G)

(A2) C3 E3 F3 G3 A3 B3 C4 E4

Chords: A minor, C major, E minor, F major

Tip: the integral is an exciting, enigmatic scale. Watch out for those half steps! You can, intentionally or not, get a pungent interference pattern by playing the E3/F3 or B3/C4 on the A Integral, in quick succession.

RAV & BEATBOX | "FUTURE"
Tune in next time for Part 2, when we explore Western forests and beyond!

The article is written by David Duan, all rights reserved, copyright 2018.
David Duan
Composer, cellist, and sound healer
A Dean's Recognition Award recipient and multiple concerto competition winner, he has performed around the world with a variety of ensembles and orchestras. A graduate of New York University and the Peabody Preparatory of the Johns Hopkins University, he lives in Maryland.

Please contact david.duan@nyu.edu for information, gigs, commissions, collaboration, and more.

Instagram: davidduan
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